Market Report: Dairy Crest curdles as City turns on plunge in profits

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Pre-tax profits at the maker of Utterly Butterly spread was £22.1 million for the year compared with £54.2 million a year earlier as dairy prices sank amid high production of milk.

Profit from its dairies, which it has agreed to sell to Müller for £80 million to concentrate on its more profitable cheeses and spreads, slumped 90%.

The company said the performance of its Clover and Country Life spreads was “satisfactory” although sales were down 8% and 9% respectively, reflecting a move away from making sandwiches at home.

Its cheese brand Cathedral City provided a bright spot, however, with sales up 5%.

But that and its confidence that the Müller deal, currently under review by the Competition and Markets Authority, would get the go-ahead failed to convince the City and Dairy Crest sank 24.1p to 493.55p on the FTSE 250 mid-cap index.

But its woes paled into insignificance compared with Kate Swann’s SSP, which was the index’s largest faller despite a maiden dividend of 2.1p.

Kate SwannKate Swann ran WH Smith before joining SSP (Picture: SSP)


The owner of Upper Crust and Millie’s Cookies said first-half revenues dropped 0.8% to £859.2 million after being hit by the pound strengthening against the euro. The shares slipped 11.9p to 300.2p.

The blue-chip index was once again looking flat, rising only 7.53 points to 7014.79, with both a declining financial sector and concerns over Greece keeping a lid on gains.

Heavyweight mining stocks provided some upward momentum, with both Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton pushing for the top spots on the FTSE 100 leaderboard.

“This appears to have been driven by bargain-hunting with traders deciding that there’s value to be found at these levels despite the ongoing rout in commodity prices,” said Trustnet Direct market analyst Tony Cross.


Rio Tinto rose 49.5p to 2916.50p, BHP Billiton was up 27p at 1422.75p and Antofagasta climbed 13p to hit 792p.Daily Mail publisher DMGT was ahead by 14.5p at 935.25p after its half-year update.

A 15% operating margin at its media division outshone a 1% dip  in revenue and 7% fall in underlying profit at group level, according to Numis analysts.

News of a £445 million share placing at takeaway ordering app Just Eat caused investors to lose their appetite for its shares.

The placing, which will fund the company’s acquisition of Menulog, sent Just Eat tumbling 7.9p to 439.50p.

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May 22, 2015 |
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